Any visit by a US President is the equivalent of the world’s biggest circus coming to town.

Who needs Barnum and Bailey, or any other contenders for the Greatest Showman in the world, when you have the unpredictability of Donald Trump

Remember this is a President who managed to insult London Mayor Sadiq Khan before Air Force One had even landed. Talk about dominating the news cycle.

The visiting and UK-based media have swamped the whole affair and covered it like Pavlovian dogs, drooling at the thought of spats with Prince Harry, endorsements of Boris Johnson, trade deals post-Brexit and speculating on his meeting with Nigel Farage.

Meanwhile the US media has fallen over itself to focus on the pomp and circumstance of the state visit. It’s as if they forgot their country only came into being after a revolution ripped George III’s empire asunder. 

Then again, maybe nothing has changed since the days of grainy footage showing the first President to visit the UK, Woodrow Wilson on Boxing Day 1918, riding in an open carriage through London being cheered by massive crowds. 

Truman and Eisenhower followed in the subsequent decades, both meeting a young Queen Elizabeth. Media coverage then was respectful, always at a distance and utterly stage-managed. 

The first modern visit was in 1961 when the tanned, vibrant John F Kennedy met PM Harold Macmillan and the Queen. Coverage of JFK and First Lady Jackie Kennedy looked like the New World meeting the Old. Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Bushes Snr and Jr and Obama, followed. All stuck to protocol and no rules were broken. The relationship was always “special”.

The media love “diary stories” which can be planned in advance. Little real coverage of the behind-the-scenes deal-making occurs. The US Presidential bubble remains intact. The “optics” of the trip matter most to the American audience and those have been delivered by Trump on this trip.

The Queen and her so-called Firm come out of it well. In the centre of the mad Trump circus she is a constant, stable presence. For all the bombast, the average American likes her style.

As JFK whispered to an aid when they visited Buckingham Palace for the first time: “Let’s see how they do it.” They did just that and, back home in the White House, uniformed marines started opening and closing doors for the President, Hail To The Chief was played and state dinners became fancy affairs. 

When asked how this stacked up against egalitarian ideals of the young Democratic president, an aid from his Irish Mafia staff quipped: “Hey, she’s our kinda Queen…” 

- Dr Eamonn O’Neill is assocaite professor in journalism at Edinburgh Napier University.